New allegations emerge in last week’s attack of a Muni driver, with claims that the deplorable teens punched and spit on the driver, and accused him of having COVID-19 because he’s Asian.
Last week’s brutal attack of a Muni driver, allegedly by three male teenagers who refused to put on face coverings as required, was picked up by Fox News and has entered the national conversation. But clearer-eyed follow-up reporting closer to home reveals what may be even more depressing and enraging details, as KQED reported Sunday that the attack may have been an anti-Asian hate crime.
A transit union representative now says the three attackers not only beat the driver with a half-size baseball bat, but also spit on him, punched him twice in the face, and amidst anti-Asian slurs, accused him of having coronavirus because the driver is Asian.
UPDATE: There's more to that baseball bat attack on a Muni driver.— Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez (@FitzTheReporter) July 26, 2020
First, the attacker accused the Muni operator of having COVID-19 because he's Asian.
Then he spat at him, struck him with a bat, and punched him in the face.
That assessment comes from Roger Marenco, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 250 that represents Muni drivers. Marenco told KQED that "When he asked them to keep their face coverings on, they said 'they didn't have to' and said the operator 'probably had' [coronavirus] because he was Asian," Marenco said. The driver is reportedly still recovering from a fractured finger suffered during the attack, which took place at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the 11th and Division Street stop, so presumably the bus was a 9-San Bruno.
The teens allegedly refused to don masks, the driver stopped the bus and booted all three teenagers from the bus, and one attacked him with the bat. The driver grabbed the bat, but Marenco says the driver was then punched twice in the face, spat upon, and peppered with racist slurs.
A brutal assault on a San Francisco bus driver also included a verbal attack with racial slurs, according to new information on the incident provided by a labor official.— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) July 27, 2020
Story by @JillTucker: https://t.co/FqmhONNjFY
Marenco admits to the Chronicle he has not seen video of the incident, and it’s unclear if the alleged attack was even recorded. If it's true that the suspects spat on the driver, Marenco says, that qualifies as a second "serious assault, especially in today’s times."
The SFPD says they’re not sure if they will be classifying this one as a hate crime.
“This is being investigated as an aggravated assault along with the health order violation,“ SFPD spokesperson Officer Robert Rueca told the Chronicle, who note the police say the incident does not appear, from their perspective, to have been racially motivated.
So this could be rank-and-file violence from knuckleheads who just don’t want to put on a mask. After all, the New York Post reports an uptick in attacks on New York bus drivers over mask requirements, and we also have stories of Walmart customers pulling guns and assaulting police when being told to wear a mask. But at the same time, racist violence against Asian-Americans has only increased since we reported on the issue in March, as a recent report from the SF State Asian American Studies Department and other groups points out that there have been 832 more hate incidents against Asians statewide since March 19, “averaging ten [attacks] per day.”